I am not sure why we got ‘Lux The Poet’ to review as it is neither Science Fiction nor fantasy. The back of the book says it is fiction and so it is. The central character is Lux who thinks he is the world greatest living poet. As well as being a thief and a liar, he is selfish and extremely vain. The setting for the book is the area of London known as Brixton, which is famous for the riot of 1981. It so happens that there is a riot in progress during this story but it’s unlikely to be the 1981 riot for reasons I’ll explain later.
The main story thread follows Lux as he searches for his hoped for girl-friend Pearl, whose house succumbed to a stray petrol bomb and burnt down. She is trying to make her way through the riot to a friend’s house. Things are complicated for Pearl as her girl-friend Nancy is in almost catatonic shock having murdered her best friend who happens to be a PC. The two have to dodge the rioters, the police, Lux and the Personal Computer Services operatives while trying to reach safety.
Added to the mix are the thrash metal band Jane Austin Mercenaries who are after Lux and Kalia who was framed and then expelled from heaven until she completes one million good deeds. This is something she is unlikely to complete as the bad person in heaven sent down another being from heaven, Yasmin, to stop her. There is also Happy Science PLC who is trying to organise a beauty contest so they can impregnate the beautiful women with the sperm from geniuses.
You are probably thinking this looks like a fun story and so it should be with an eclectic mix of characters, odd plot lines and written in a humorous style. Unfortunately, it does not quite work for a number of reasons. Firstly, the character Lux has no redeemable qualities to ender himself to the reader. He is basically a self-obsessed, bumbling idiot, convinced of his own greatness and a character who Kalia has met many times during her numerous reincarnations through the ages. The most memorable was when Lux became a star at a perfume-smelling contest in feudal Japan. It did not end well.
The famous Brixton night occurred in 1981 at a time when there were no PCs and thrash metal was but a twinkle in the eye of some heavy metal musicians. The seeds of thrash metal were sown in the early 80s but it took time to grow and become recognised for what it is. It did not achieve commercial success until the late 80s. Therefore, this story has to be set in later times but that is not the main problem I have with the story. I think it is the style of writing Millar adopted for this book. There is a combination of first person, third person and retrospective. Most passages are short with some being only a couple of lines.
There are one or two humorous bits in the book but they are rare. On numerous occasions, story threads are ended with a single sentence as if Millar had just got fed up with them. Possibly, he was in a rush to complete the story and get it published. As the book is only 208 pages long, there is not a lot of room for story development. The whole book covers a few days in the life of Lux and the people he comes into contact with. Very few of these people benefit from meeting Lux.
In the end, what we have is a fairly short book written in a humorous style filled with improbable characters which I did not really engage with. It is not Science Fiction and it is not fantasy so not really my cup of tea.
(pub: Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint Press. 198 page enlarged paperback. Price: $13.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59376-231-5)